Boris Johnson, Britain’s prime minister, who said earlier this week that it was Britons’ “patriotic duty” to go to the pub when they reopen on Saturday, has now urged people not to “overdo it.” His warning came after tens of thousands have flocked to beaches, organized illegal music parties and violated social-distancing rules in recent weeks.
Britain has reported the world’s third-highest pandemic death toll, with triple-digit death counts still coming most days.
“Let’s not blow it now, folks,” Mr. Johnson told LBC radio on Friday, weeks after he announced that the country’s “long hibernation” was over and that the virus was under control. Restaurant industry workers have said in British news outlets that they were afraid of going back to work, and concerns are high that pub customers could flout basic rules and trigger new waves of infections.
On Wednesday, the Treasury tweeted that people should “grab a drink and raise a glass” when pubs reopen. The tweet was later deleted. A pub in south London has promised “endless supply” of drinks to “fuel your shenanigans,” after more than three months of closure, which was a first in the history of the country’s pubs.
Pubs — like restaurants, hair salons and other businesses welcoming visitors again on Saturday — will have to maintain a 21-day record of their customers, the government has said, to trace contacts in case of new outbreaks.
In Leicester, 100 miles north of London, pubs and other nonessential businesses will remain closed because of a regional outbreak of virus cases.
The British authorities also announced on Friday that, starting July 10, travelers from countries in Europe including France, Italy and Spain, will no longer have to self-quarantine for 14 days. The change will currently only apply to England, with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland expected to set up their own rules.